Today, we all rely on the internet for so many things in life. We might be using it to find out the latest news, to catch up on gossip with or about our friends, to look up a recipe so we can make the kids’ tea, or to pay our bills and buy all kinds of stuff.

pic

Image by Ross Merritt Photography 

Thanks to the internet’s ability to provide us with any information that we need in seconds, most of us seem to have reduced our attention span to that of a flea these days, and we lack patience for anything that doesn’t work pretty much instantly.

This means that the design and functionality of a website has become of prime importance to all businesses, because, as consumers, if we can’t use a website quickly and easily, we have so many alternatives available, that we’ll quickly move on to another site that’s more user-friendly.

It’s no wonder that different companies spend so much on getting their websites right. The most successful website in the world happens to also be the simplest. If you need to find out anything these days, where do you start first? For 99% of internet users, the starting point would be a Google search. Click on Google and you get a nice clean page with a box in the middle – what could be simpler?

Consequently, a lot of effort goes into getting the design of a website just right. This article about the changing face of Ladbroke’s bingo website is a good illustration of this. With a bingo website, as well as making sure that current customers are able to login easily and to quickly start playing the games they enjoy, there’s the other purpose of the website – to draw in new customers. Many bingo websites are obviously aimed at female players, but what do you do if you want to encourage more male players – would they be put off joining a site that has ‘girly’ colours? From a user’s point of view, though, while these factors might affect you at a subliminal level, it’s probably fair to say that the most important factors in website design are simplicity of use and functionality.

pic

Image by chrisjohnbeckett 

None of us enjoy waiting and watching a page load – we want them to load instantly, or at least extremely quickly. If we’re already a member on a website, we want to see the login box straight away, but if, on the other hand, we’re new to a site, we want something that signposts us to an easy registration form.

Another thing many website users don’t take kindly to is change for the sake of it. If you use a website regularly, you’ll doubtless have had those moments when you realise that the site has had a re-vamp (why???) and you can’t move around it as easily as you used to. It’s fine if these changes make sense, but often it feels like it’s been changed just for the sake of it and then the old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ springs to mind.

If any website designers are listening out there, what we as users want is sites that are intuitive, quick and easy to use, without too much clutter on the page so we don’t have to spend time looking for the bit we’re interested in. Is that a tall order? Maybe, but that’s the way to keep people coming back to your website!